07 September 2017 | Lovina
21 August 2017 | Tang Godong
Temperamental Weather Gods
11 October 2017
If you're not superstitious, spending a little time at the equator on a boat might change your mind.
After being cooped-up inside all day sweltering in the heat with our hatches closed, and cringing as deafening cracks of thunder made the floorboards shudder beneath our feet, I realized that we neglected to toast Zeus when we crossed the equator.
We made a point of toasting Neptune to honour the age-old sailor's tradition, appealing to him for calm seas and pouring a splash of rum in the sea. It seemed to work perfectly. He bestowed us with glassy calm seas during our crossing. But in doing so, we must have inadvertently shunned Zeus (God of the Skies). Feeling under-appreciated with Neptune getting all of the attention, Zeus had a nasty temper tantrum, shooting lightening bolts and ear-splitting cracks of thunder, and dousing us with hours of torrential rain. Ill have to remember to fill a spray bottle with rum for our next passage...
Last Stop in Indonesia
10 October 2017
We arrived at Nongsa Marina a few days ago after a three day and two night passage from Belitung. Along the way we narrowly averted a fishing net in the middle of the night. Only a rapid shift into full reverse and a 90 degree turn saved us from wrapping the net around our propellor. We then spent the next hour following along the net using a flashlight to illuminate the small floats holding it up. We calculated it went on for over two miles! But we are now safe and sound, tied up to a dock for the first time since Australia and at our last stop in Indonesia. To say the least Nongsa is pretty upscale from what we experienced in the rest of Indonesia, complete with resort and pool! We will spend a week here relaxing and using the pool to cool off and then tackle the Singapore straits, the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Sort of like crossing a 8 lane highway on a tricycle! But we always love a challenge.
Time To Go Again
04 October 2017
Belitung has been - without a doubt, our favorite destination in Indonesia. We would have been happy to squeeze in a bit more time here if we could, but our visa expires soon so its time to move on to our final destination where we'll complete the formalities for checking out of the country. We had a great time playing here, plunging from the boat into the warm water for a swim, snorkelling with friends through reefs of gorgeous, colorful coral, exploring a bit (touring a turtle hatchery and an historic lighthouse), partaking in Rally festivities, and floating around the bay at sunset with our buddies at impromptu dinghy raft-ups. What a great break its been.
(New photos in the gallery)
Saving The Best 'Til Last
26 September 2017
At Belitung Island we've reached one of the last Indonesian cruising destinations on our list. We're in a fabulous anchorage and are actually a bit ahead of schedule for a change, so we have an opportunity to slow down a bit. Time for some R&R!
We have plenty of space around us in the anchorage and we're floating in warm, crystal clear water (clear enough to see starfish on the bottom 20-30 feet below us). The beaches are silty-soft, and the hot humid weather cools down each afternoon like clockwork along with the daily rain shower. Ahhhhh... now THIS is what its all about.
Our view is so beautiful its hard to describe. Brightly painted traditional boats line the edge of the bay and mounds of giant, smooth granite boulders rise up from small palm-fringed Islets. Some of these natural sculptures huddle together and lean into each other for support while others stand alone, defying gravity by reaching 30 feet or more.
At night silence is broken by the occasional gasp of a turtle surfacing for air outside our porthole.
We can swim and snorkel here - no crocodiles or sharks, and we've been told that the huge jellyfish bobbing around us when it rains don't sting. Good thing, considering that it rains every day!
Best Party Yet
19 September 2017
We had an uneventful two day sail (or should I say motor) from Bali to Karimunjawa. Arriving in the late morning with two other rally boats, we were met at the edge of the bay by a local in his klotok (traditional Indonesian boat), flying the Sail Indonesia flag, shouting 'Welcome to Karimunjawa!' We could have been in a set from Fantasy Island! He led us to the anchorage, directed us to an anchor spot and then said he would return the next day after we had time to sleep. There were a total of five rally boats in the bay and the festivities were to begin the next morning.
At eight o'clock the next morning we were picked up in a large coast guard inflatable and ferried into the town. A large entourage of dignitaries, reporters and organizers met us at the dock, bestowed ceremonial scarves as well as hats and t-shirts and escorted us into town. On the way, Kim was interviewed by a reporter and cameras flashed everywhere. This was obviously a big event for Karrimunjawa. And we were the main attraction.
We arrived at a large field with a stage at one end complete with blaring music and two talented MCs/ singers. We were immediately "invited " to partake in a group dance, Indonesian-style, led by an energetic woman on the stage (a sort of zumba on steroids). With sweat pouring off us (most exercise I've had in months) we were then directed to a group of tables to eat, and then to another location to eat some more!
That was when the fashion show was introduced. Basically we were all outfitted in traditional Javanese costumes, including hats for the men, and were directed to practice walking on the catwalk. What we didn't realize initially was this was just a rehearsal for the main event that evening at the Gala dinner, where we would be judged by dignitaries and prizes awarded. After spending the afternoon resting on our boats after oure strenuous morning we were again ferried into town for the main event. And that it was! While we ate a spectacular meal we were treated to a variety of acts on stage including one of the best violinists I have ever heard. And then the fashion show... well I think we entertained the local dignitaries and by the end of the evening everyone was on stage singing, dancing and laughing.These guys know how to throw a welcoming party!
(Oh by the way we won the competition, I think because as one of the dressers said "You two are just 'George'ous'' ! We are still laughing about it.)
New photos in the Gallery...
The Quieter Side of Bali
16 September 2017
Most tourists flock to hotels and resorts on Southern Bali for a week or two of pampering and partying. Our Rally stop was on the Northern side at Lovina, which was still somewhat westernized but more low key. Traditional markets and tiny shops were interspersed with air conditioned Mini-Marts and massage parlours.
After the first couple of days we went out of our way to avoid the relentless invitations to buy goods and services from beach side vendors, but on the other hand, Tom couldn't resist a daily visit to the Dutch Bakery for a grape strudel.
We arrived a couple of days before the start of the annual Lovina Festival, which coincides with the Rally schedule. This gave us time to explore a bit before the big beachfront party began, with its parades, live music and performances.
So we hired a driver for a day with a few other cruisers (from our own Rally this time!) and made a trip inland for some sightseeing. Switchback roads cut through tropical hillsides and past small traditional communities along the way to the various destinations on our list. The drive itself is often a highlight of an excursion for me - I love sitting back and watching the scenery pass by.
We passed through Monkey Forest where small Macaques peeked out of the bush. They quickly overcame their shyness when Tom pulled a banana out of his knapsack - soon he had them eating out of his hands.
Our driver waited patiently while we meandered up the path to Gitgit Waterfall, which was very pretty (not as outstanding as waterfalls in the Marqueses or Vanuatu, but we've been spoiled).
We were truly impressed however, by Temple On The Lake at Pura Bratan. Sprawling manicured grounds and ancient ornate temples were set off by the picturesque lake and small communities pressed into the hillsides.
Next on our itinerary was Banjar Buddhist Temple. We slipped our sarongs over our shorts out of respect and entered the tranquil temple grounds. Balinese carvings were intermixed with large Buddha statues and bright, colourful decorations, signifying the solidarity among the Balinese people and local Buddhist community. By the time we reached the Hot Springs it was late afternoon so we had a brief dip in the warm pools before continuing on to Carrefour (a Western-style grocer) for provisions on our way back to Lovina.
After a couple of days preparing for our next passage and visiting with friends we headed Northwest towards Karimunjawa for more Rally festivities.
(New photos in gallery)